After a Low PAPP-A result and a small fundal height measurement I was sent for extra scanning during pregnancy. When they did the scans, I was actually told baby was large (above 90th centile). I was offered an induction for large gestational age. This was a far cry from the home birth I had hoped for and had to let go of my original hopes for that.
I did spend a long time weighing up the induction, looking at the evidence etc, but once I had accepted the induction it was actually quite nice to be able to plan childcare and know my baby wouldn’t be keeping me waiting like my last 2 had!
I went for induction at 39+4, having already tried 2 sweeps which did not induce labour. I decided to use my time on the antenatal ward to try and rest and enjoy a last bit of ‘down time’, so I brought my favourite book and a laptop loaded with feel-good movies. After a quick scan and time on the CTG I was given the pessary around 11am and strapped in for a long day! I enjoyed my day relaxing but also feeling a bit frustrated that nothing was happening yet. Around 6pm, my ‘evening pains’ started (I had been having them nightly for about 2 weeks, but they usually went after I went to bed), so I started becoming more active walking and bouncing on the gym ball to try and progress these.
Unfortunately, being on the ante-natal ward I felt like I couldn’t quite get in the ‘zone’ and was feeling a little disappointed with the situation. My surge timer told me I was in active labour, and an internal exam said I was about 3cms dilated. The midwives suggested I try to sleep and they could hopefully break my waters in the morning. Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep as I found it hard to get comfortable and the surges were quite strong. I was offered various medications by the antenatal staff to help me manage the pain, but in the end I opted for a bath. When I got in the bath, it didn’t quite have the relaxing effect I was hoping it might and I felt quite tearful at this point. The midwife came in and gave me a hug, let me cry on her and helped me to ‘grieve’ for the fact I wasn’t doing this at home in my own way. I continued breathing with my hypnobirthing app and trying to remind myself that my baby would be here soon. I was very tired at this point and finding it hard not to get frustrated that it wasn’t happening faster!
At around 6am I was transferred to the labour ward and I called my husband to come in. Disappointingly, the midwife on shift did not seem particularly interested in my context of where I came from or how I could make myself more comfortable, she just wanted to put me on the CTG monitor, which I had just been on for about 40 minutes on antenatal ward. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my heart rate had gone up as I was feeling stressed by the situation and just wanted to try and make myself comfortable, which led to further time on the CTG and not moving. My husband arrived and the midwife changed shift at 7am. The new midwife on shift was really interested in our story and called a more senior midwife to help her make a decision about my CTG readings. They both really seemed to understand where I was coming from and were so supportive, so decided to take some positive risk and let me off the CTG to get more comfortable, despite my heartrate being higher than they’d like. They went and got twinkly lights from the birth centre and moved the bed to make it all feel less hospitally. I spoke to my sister who had been a birth partner at my previous 2 births and again had a little cry with her that all was not as nice as I hoped it was.
The surges were still pretty intense, but I had found the focussed breathing enough to manage them. My heartrate was doing much better but after another chunk of time, I was ‘stuck’ at around 4/5cms dilated. The consultant came by and was very supportive and even said I could go home if I wanted to. We made a decision to review in 2 hours and that I would go for a walk outside and get some decent food. I was continuing to have regular surges and coping well with them by breathing through. After another internal exam I had not dilated any further and I was started to feel quite tired at this point, so we agreed to break my waters to hopefully speed up the process. After they broke the waters and they were happy with mine and baby’s heartrate and the midwife said she would go and take her lunchbreak, but another midwife would be popping in. I asked her where the gas and air was in case I needed it whilst she was out of the room. At some point during her lunchbreak, I decided I needed to get up on to the bed and lean over a beanbag for a more supportive position as I felt the surges becoming more intense and my body felt tired. At some point I must have started to use a bit of gas and air.
When a midwife popped in to see me she declared ‘you look like you want to push’. I did not think I could have progressed so quickly, it had been about one hour since they broke the waters, but sure enough when they examined me I was fully dilated. I was so relieved! My midwife came back from her break and supported me through bearing down in my upright position. At some point I wanted to move to lying on my back so that I did not have to hold myself at all and could put all my strength into pushing. I used gas and air between pushes to really relax myself. I started saying phrases like ‘I can’t do it’ and ‘can you just pull this baby out now’, which I know meant I was close. Everyone was so encouraging and told me how fantastically I was doing. A student midwife asked us if she could deliver the baby which we agreed to. I felt very in control as my baby’s head was born very slowly as the midwives were guiding me to do so.
My daughter was born and placed immediately on my chest. It was the best feeling in the world. I had the injection to deliver the placenta. All the midwives commented what a lovely birth it was to be at and how they loved the environment with the lights etc. I had no tearing and whilst I was admittedly ‘disappointed’ with some parts of the birth, when I was listened to and supported, I had a really positive birth experience and felt very ‘present’ for the last stages of pushing which I hadn’t with my previous birth experiences.