I was 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant when labour started on the Saturday morning. I was expecting to have another few weeks before birth, but I’d felt symptoms building over the week prior that gave me an inkling our little girl might make a surprise arrival. Whilst I hadn’t nested in the traditional sense, I had the most intense urge to bake a Victoria sponge cake the night before I went into labour - perhaps it was my body telling me I’d be needing the extra sugar and energy? Regardless it came in handy as a tasty snack over the next couple of days!
My waters burst at 5:30am on the Saturday morning- I was in bed asleep and I felt a pop and small gush, so immediately jumped out of bed and grabbed a towel. I’d expected to go into a bit of a panic when labour started, but thanks to all of our preparation, I felt really calm and excited that it was actually happening, even if it was earlier than anticipated! We set about calling maternity assessment and they advised we try and get a couple more hours sleep and then come in just after 9am to confirm that it was my waters that had gone. We went back to bed for an hour but at 6:30am my contractions started and I couldn’t sleep through them (mainly due to the excitement!). I decided to let my partner Jordan get a couple more hours (I knew I’d be needing him to be awake later!) and so I went into the living room to bounce on my ball and then had a hot shower. By 7:30am the contractions started coming every 15 minutes, and so I used my breathing exercises to get through each one. They really were like a wave and it helped me to know if I could breathe through the first 20-30 seconds, the intensity would then decrease.
We went to the hospital at 9:30am where they confirmed it was my waters that had gone and explained that I would need to be booked in for an induction in case my labour didn’t progress naturally. They initially suggested we book in for an induction 24 hours later but we used our BRAIN and discussed options with them, resulted in us agreeing to commence the induction 48 hours later if labour hadn’t progressed. However, during this discussion I had a pretty intense contraction and the midwives response was, “I think we’ll be seeing you before Monday!”.
We were sent home to labour and so we set about having the best day we could. We first had some of the Victoria sponge and tea, and switched Saturday Kitchen on whilst I bounced on my ball. I love watching cooking shows and so this was a perfect way for me to relax. My partner was there to support me through each contraction, which were now coming every 10 minutes apart. After an hour of being on the ball, the fatigue had started to kick in and so I decided to have a nap on the sofa. Jordan decided this was a good time to build the cot in case we were able to come straight home (we had really been counting on having a few more weeks to get ready!).
We had a small lunch of pasta and salad - I was told to eat little and often by the midwives so tried to eat enough to give me energy without feeling too full. After lunch the contractions really started to ramp up and so we put our labour playlist on and danced and bounced around the living room. By this point I was using Jordan to help support me through the contractions and count my breaths with me. After some dancing and bouncing, Jordan gave me a foot massage and then ran me a bath. This was exactly what I needed at the time and really helped relax me just as the contractions were really ramping up.
By 5pm contractions had stepped up another gear, although they were still 5 minutes apart - so not yet at the 3 every 10 minutes stage that they tell you to wait for before calling the hospital. But I was then sick and the intensity ramped up so I told Jordan to call - they said to come in as being sick was a sign things were progressing well.
We put our labour playlist on in the car and when we arrived at the hospital I found that contractions really ramped up. I was assessed and found to be 5cm dilated which was further ahead than I’d expected so that got us really excited for meeting our little girl. I think I really progressed as we were waiting to be taken up to labour ward as I had a noticeable transition moment where I started to freak out a bit and feel the urge to push. Jordan helped keep me calm with my breathing exercises and by providing positive affirmations and gently massaging my back.
We were taken to the labour room with a birthing pool and so I got straight in. I’d packed a bikini top for some semblance of dignity but I was so keen to focus on birthing that I completely forgot about it! Jordan placed some LED candles around the pool, got out my handheld fan with essential oils and put on our labour playlist. The midwife read our birth plan and once I’d got settled into the pool left us to do our own thing. I used gas and air to take the edge off the intensity of the contractions which really helped and Jordan held me from outside the pool. The warm water instantly helped sooth the feeling of the contractions and I laboured for an hour or so naturally until I could feel her head. The midwives used the sonocaid monitor to periodically check baby’s heartbeat and that helped give me reassurance that she was doing okay.
After 1.5hrs, it became obvious that no matter how much I was breathing down and pushing, baby’s head wasn’t coming any further. So I came out of the pool to try some different positions. Another hour passed and baby’s head was still stuck so I agreed for the midwife to make a small incision to help get baby out. Prior to labour an episiotomy would have been the last thing I wanted, however in the moment we used our BRAIN to evaluate our options and decided that a small cut to me was worth the benefit of getting her out safely before she got into distress and whilst I still had a last bit of energy left. This part was actually much better than expected thanks to some local anaesthetic and Jordan holding my hand and breathing with me. The midwives helped coach me to push and after some big pushes, our daughter finally arrived just before midnight. It was such a surreal moment having her placed on my chest but it really was magical. We had immediate skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping to the point where the cord had stopped pulsating before Jordan cut the cord, and we delayed getting her cleaned and weighed for the first couple of hours so we could just keep her on my chest.
I had an active management for the delivery of the placenta and honestly barely felt birthing it as I was so distracted by our daughter snuggling into my chest. We had a good natter with the midwife as she was stitching me up (again, this was much less unpleasant than I would have anticipated) and then we were brought some sweet tea and left to have more cuddles before being moved up to the ward.
Overall I can honestly say that labour was an incredible experience and even though it didn’t end exactly how we envisioned, every single moment was a really positive experience and I am so grateful for that. The hypnobirthing techniques that we used help keep me calm and focused throughout the day, and the knowledge gained through the course meant I felt confident and excited at every stage. Most importantly it enabled Jordan to be the best birthing partner I could ask for- he knew exactly what I wanted at each point and I couldn’t have done it without him.
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