Members birth stories

Hannah's Birth Story

A Natural Home (Water) Birth at 41+6

Do we or Don't we...

After many long conversations with my partner over whether we were going to try for a baby we decided that the odds were in my favour, the statistics that I had found showed that 1/3 people with ME get more ill whilst pregnant, 1/3 Neither get worse nor better and a 1/3 improved in health whilst pregnant, I figured that 1/3 of a chance of a relapse was pretty fair odds.

I fell into the 80%-90% well category so my planning more about make sure that I didn't relapse than managing symptoms

We were aiming for a spring baby as my health drastically improves in the summer, maybe April or May, we were expecting it to be difficult to conceive due to my health, so we started a month earlier than our aimed dates (totally expecting to have no success and having to wait a year to try again). I think you can guess what happened next!

So my due date was the 10th March, I was lucky enough to be in the 1/3 who improve whilst pregnant I actually felt well! One of the things that triggers relapse for me is stress, especially emotional stress, I wanted to create an environment for myself which caused me the least stress. Another trigger for me is I can sometimes react badly to drugs, so I wanted to minimise medical intervention, so we kept everything crossed that I remained well during pregnancy and the birth.

Our Plan...

We aimed for a birth which was 'natural' I wanted to avoid all medication where possible. We took a Natal Hypnotherapy course to give me the best chance of getting through the labour without needing additional pain relief. Added bonus was that it was a whole coping system to keep you calm whilst in labour and reduce your release of adrenalin (my Kryptonite!). I chose a home birth because it was where I felt most comfortable. We hired a heated birth pool, which I used leading up to the labour to relax in (it was heaven).

As soon as I was at my due date my midwife informed the hospital and they wanted me to come in to attempt to persuade me to be induced, I refused as both the baby and I were both well and it went against my birth plan, if my midwife had been worried I would have attended. The next time I went to the midwife she started talking about 'monitoring the baby', I desperately didn't want to go to hospital as it was a 20min car journey and I found hospitals stressful places which I prefer to avoid to maintain my health for the labour, so we agreed I would consider monitoring the week after 42 weeks. I knew once I started to go to hospital my stress levels would go up and my health would decline.

At this point my husband and I had a conversation about the possibility that I would have to be induced due to the placenta beginning to 'fail', we hadn't really had to have the conversation before as my pregnancy had been uneventful and it was the first time going to the hospital to be induced had been mentioned. I was completely against it unless myself or the baby were in danger, the more I thought about the process of induction and the number of horror stories I had heard, most of which ended in either an assisted delivery or c-section, I felt that for me skipping induction and going straight for an elective c-section was best. I felt although it was invasive it would mean a less stressful experience and less energy used up should induction not work out. This felt like the right decision for me and when I informed my midwife it was like a weight had lifted from my shoulders.

The Birth...

Luckily after a very long walk and a stern conversation with bump, I started having irregular contractions around 3pm on Saturday afternoon (I was 41+6). We watched Twilight the film, I bounced on my birth ball and my husband timed my contractions. I told him when they started and when they stopped they weren't painful at all just felt like slight tightening.

By about 6pm the contractions were coming more regularly and we were advised by our midwife to inform the labour contact I was starting to struggle and I had my TENs on. I didn't, I was coping fine, but after 7pm all the midwives on duty get sent to our local hospital and it would have greatly lessened my chances of having midwives attend my home birth (although they can't refuse they are known for insisting you come into hospital). By 7.45pm the contractions were getting stronger and I had to stop and breathe through them. I tried to eat some food but half way through my third mouthful the midwives turned up and wanted to examine me.

I lay on the bed upstairs and they said that baby was engaged and the right way round, which was a relief.

At some point - it must have been around 10pm - the midwives were getting a bit concerned as I hadn't progressed enough to warrant them staying but they knew if they left I would struggle to get someone back out again. I had been coping with my contractions by walking around, stopping when I had a contraction and breathing deeply whilst rotating my hips, always thinking about welcoming the contractions and opening for my baby. When the contractions were too much to cope with I would sit for a bit, but when the midwives were worried they would have to leave, I climbed the stairs a few times. I would climb the stairs, walk to the end of the corridor, have a contraction, walk back down the stairs and have another. This got me into active labour.

To be honest with you, after the midwives arrived I have very little recollection of time passing or how close together or long my contractions were getting. Each time I had one I just breathed through it keeping calm, always with my eyes closed. I ate little and often as well and regularly emptied my bladder. To be honest, I couldn't have not. The contractions were much more comfortable once I had gone to the loo, although sitting on the loo was uncomfortable for me.

At some point I remember thinking, "Gosh, these contractions are getting stronger. Maybe I should get in the pool?" but I was afraid it would slow the labour down. Shortly after this the Midwife suggested I get in the pool and reassured me that it would not slow down my labour.

Once I was in the pool it was like my contractions were at the same level as when I first started having them. I thought, "Great. I can do this for as long as I need to."

Two or three contractions later I went into transition. This is when the my Natal Hypnotherapy went out of the window to an extent. I knew I was going to be sick and shouted for a bowl and then I dry retched several times. I was starting to lose it a bit because I knew I was in transition and I could feel the first pushing contraction building and I just couldn't be sick whilst pushing. Luckily I was sick just before the first pushing contraction.

I was leaning forward with my head resting on the edge of the pool which meant I was able to rock back and forth through the contractions which helped.

I was adamant that I wanted to relax as much as possible and let my body do the pushing so as to prevent as much damage as possible (I did end up having stitches). I had prepared the midwives and told them that they weren't to instruct me to push, but I think I took everyone by surprise by how quickly I transitioned and the whole place went into chaos, with the midwives shouting at me to push and the heart beat being taken between contractions and my whole mojo went out of the window. Luckily I still was able to get it back between contractions and relax. This part of my labour lasted 10mins, which I am glad about because it wasn't my finest hour (or should I say 10mins). I did manage to kill the midwives Doppler because the baby was so low down that the wrong end (the not waterproof end) got splashed. I was grateful because I found it a real distraction.

The baby was born at 3.35am (I think) in the morning and I was the first one to touch her. I bought her out of the water and I don't remember what happened next but I do remember the midwife helping to remove the cord which was wrapped round her head twice, her arm and her leg. The midwives commented that they had never seen a cord so long. I also remember the midwife instructing me to see what sex the baby was, more out of her own excitement than anything else. my husband and I didn't really care. We were just overjoyed that she was born and alive and safe!!

Throughout the labour my husband had been my constant companion but he didn't get into the pool until after the baby was born. During the earlier parts he had been a shoulder to lean against and later on he had been the calming influence I needed between pushing contractions.

I also at one point remember trying to lean forwards whilst holding the baby and almost falling and drowning us both due to my legs not really working!

I had been hoping to feed whilst in the pool but sadly it was too difficult to keep the baby in the water enough to keep warm whilst not drowning her trying to get her to latch. my husband and I did have a short time in the pool together which was really nice. I had a physiological third stage and the contractions were distracting and uncomfortable, so after a while we decided to cut the cord (which my husband did) and he took our daughter out of the pool and tied a silk cord round her umbilical stump and dressed her. Whilst Daddy was dressing, Nonna (my Mum) got her first cuddle.

Whilst I was in the pool delivering the placenta one of the midwives was holding the end of the cord still clamped in a bowl. I had an urge that I wanted the end of the cord down low. They unclamped the cord and let it fall to the bottom of the pool. The relief was almost instant and the contractions were much more bearable. In the end I had to stand up to allow the placenta to fall away but it took very little time. I was in the pool for a total of 30mins from first contraction in the pool until I got out just after the placenta had birthed. I don't think I would have had the confidence to ask if I hadn't done the Natal Hypnotherapy which taught me to trust in my instincts.

When I was having the stitches I used my Natal Hypnotherapy to get through the pain of having the aesthetic put in, meaning it was the only pain relief I had the entire birth.

I loved my birth and was prepared to do it all over again the next day and I still would. The Natal Hypnotherapy helped me stay calm and remain positive to allow my body to do the work for me, it allowed me to stay calm and minimise the impact the 'stress' of labour on my body. The only thing I would do differently if I were to do it again would be more firm with the midwives, keep their interaction down to a minimum, (as long as me and the baby are safe that is!).