Jessica’s birth story x
When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, after the initial joy and excitement, the worry set in about birth, having had a really traumatic experience with my son. Induction, adverse side effects of the pessary, epidural and then a ventouse assisted, shoulder dystocia birth which left my son in very poor condition and need of resuscitation.
I tried not to give it too much thought initially, but once we’d announced the pregnancy close friends and family started to ask questions about how I was feeling about the birth after what happened with my son. In early March, I decided to focus on doing everything I could to achieve a positive, healing birth and made the decision to hire a doula. I made contact with Kate via Doula UK, and she asked me to go over what had happened in my previous experience and reasons for wanting to hire a doula. I found it incredibly difficult to relive the story, much of it I had clearly suppressed for the last 3 years and a wave of emotions came flooding out. We discussed that my end goal was to achieve as natural of a birth as possible as I really felt like the induction and cascade of interventions had caused the traumatic birth with poor outcome. My plan was to keep active in pregnancy, start pregnancy yoga, focus on hypnobirthing and ideally I’d labour as long at home as possible and then transfer to the Midwife led birth centre attached to our local hospital.
I had the perfect pregnancy (despite being mostly throughout COVID lockdown) and starting hypnobirthing early on helped me feel very positive and even excited to meet our baby girl.
At 36 weeks pregnant, I had a growth scan followed by a consultant appointment. This really threw a spanner in the works for me, as the scan indicated my baby was measuring larger than average and would therefore be of a similar birth weight to my son. The consultant recommended I have an elective C-section at 39w to avoid another shoulder dystocia birth. I was floored, this was polar opposite than the natural birth I’d been working on and so keen to achieve. I sat in the clinic in floods of tears as they booked my csection date. Eventually a lovely midwife took me into a side room and asked me why I was so upset, I explained that I’d been longing for a healing birth and couldn’t envisage myself having a csection, it was so far from what I wanted, however I could understand why they’d made that recommendation, and I certainly didn’t want to put my daughter through the same trauma my son experienced. She said she understood and tried to make me feel more positive about the C-section option. They went ahead and booked my C-section and made an appointment for me to return to the clinic a week later to discuss my decision.
The next few days were a bit of a blur, I was distraught and spoke to my doula at length about how I was feeling. Eventually, after a few days to process it, I decided I 100% did not want the section and wanted to continue working towards my perfect birth. When I returned to clinic the following week, the consultant had been briefed by the midwife that I was very upset and he had decided to review my case again, he extracted my son’s maternity file from the archive and compared it to my current pregnancy. I told him I didn’t feel like this baby was as big as my son and even if she were, that the shoulder dystocia was largely due to the induction and birthing position. To my amazement, he agreed with me, he felt my tummy and used an ultrasound and said “this baby is nowhere near as big” I was stunned but delighted at the same time! I then was cleared to give birth in the birth centre by the head of midwifery, I couldn’t believe that my dream of my ideal birth was still within reach.
The last few weeks of pregnancy, I found a new determination to achieve my goal. My doula and I made a plan to start several natural induction methods from 37 weeks, and I remained positive, active and healthy. I’d experienced very strong Braxton Hicks contractions daily from 25 weeks pregnant, and they were 24/7 in the final weeks, I felt like things were starting to progress.
The day after my due date, I had the most amazing day, my son Luke was on his best behaviour all day and we headed to our favourite park and made some beautiful memories as a family. That evening, I made a lovely roast dinner and sticky toffee pudding and wondered if it would be our last weekend as a family of 3. My waters broke spontaneously as I was clearing up from dinner at around 9:10pm! All that oxytocin worked wonders.
I called my mum to let her know things might be starting and my doula, Kate who advised me to call the hospital. They asked me to come in to the birth centre so they could swab to confirm it was my waters. Got home from hospital at 11:30pm, had a shower and a massage from my husband, Glen, with lavender and clary sage oil and told him to get some sleep while I went downstairs. I spoke to my doula and we discussed whether to try and rest or keep mobile, she told me to follow my gut and do what felt comfortable. I decided I wanted things to progress as much as possible so I kept walking, tidied the house, lit some candles, and put on some relaxing music. Contractions started soon after and were coming thick and fast when I was walking around and staying upright, so I just carried on with that. At 1:15am the Freya app said I was in established labour. By 1:30 I woke my husband and told him I wanted help setting up the tens machine. Only a couple of contractions later, I told him we needed to call my mum to come and babysit, as I felt I was getting closer to needing to go to the birth centre. By the time she was ready and Glen was on his way to collect her, things had really ramped up, I was trying to dress myself and the contractions upped in intensity and felt like they were in my bottom, such a bizarre sensation! I was following my hypnobirthing breathing but every out breath started to become a bearing down feeling so I knew I was in transition. At this point my mind had started to contingency plan and I worried I might not make it to hospital and considered where her I might need to call an ambulance and where I might birth at home if I didn’t make it to hospital! It was difficult to prevent a little adrenaline starting to creep in, but tried to focus on the fact I was now so close to meeting my baby girl.
Once my mum arrived I asked Glen to call the maternity helpline and tell them I needed to go in to the birth centre but the line was engaged for quite a while. I went to the loo and started feeling the urge to push and panicked we wouldn’t make it to hospital after all. Thankfully the roads were relatively clear and we arrived at the hospital within minutes. He was able to locate me a wheelchair and I begged the security guard to let us jump the queue and give Glen directions to the Birth centre. I was struggling to talk through contractions which were coming thick and fast and my body was bearing down and I was mooing through every contraction! We made it through the longest journey ever (the maternity entrance is closed due to covid) and we were immediately directed to a room. My husband told the midwives he’d need to move the car as he’d left it in the ambulance bay by the main doors, they told him not to worry about that. (We now know this is because they knew the baby was coming very soon!) The birth pool was running for me and it looked so appealing I wanted to dive in, but was told I won’t be allowed in the water at the moment. The midwife asked if I could get myself out of the wheelchair and as soon as I did, I exclaimed “I think her head is coming out!!” The self doubting part of me thought they’d probably examine me and say I wasn’t fully dilated but she asked me if I could walk to the bed, I agreed and took two steps before a massive contraction involuntarily birthed her head. The midwife told Glen to run into the corridor and call another midwife to assist, they hurriedly covered the floor with towels and I asked Glen to come and support me. I lent on him and let out a yelp as I felt my baby girl fully rotate inside of me, the midwives calmly reassured me this was great and my baby was getting ready and in the perfect position to be born. The positive affirmation “my baby knows how to be born” sounded in my head. Seconds later I experienced another contraction and felt like I barely pushed at all and she was out and the midwives caught her. I struggled with shock and was hyperventilating at how quickly it had happened but also kept being hit with huge waves of relief that it was over and I’d had a fully natural birth! I held my beautiful baby girl skin to skin for over an hour and the placenta was also delivered naturally with one big contraction after 8 minutes. Glen got to cut the cord which he unfortunately didn’t with our son.
My baby was born at 3:03am, which meant I’d been in established labour for less than 2 hours. In hindsight, I think I’d probably stayed home longer than I should’ve, but I was so comfortable and focused that I didn’t realise I was as close as I was!
It wasn’t exactly how I’d planned everything would go in my head… but I wouldn’t change a thing! I became the talk of the birth centre as the woman who came flying through the doors and delivered a baby in one push while standing up! ??
The empowering birth experience really helped me bond with my baby, I instantly was besotted with her. I soaked in every second of our first hours, days and weeks together.
I’m so thankful to my doula, and my husband who fully supported me in following my strong gut feeling to stick with a natural birth and not accept the medical advice to have a C-section. My baby girl, Jessica Lily turned out to be only 7lb5oz, considerably smaller than my son. My body was made to do THIS! ?