I’ve been thinking about reliving my labour and birthing experience over and over; as if I don’t want to forget about it. Therefore, I thought it would be a nice idea to share it with anyone worried or anxious about giving birth during this Corona virus pandemic. I’ll begin by stating the fact that I had a really positive birthing experience and that the staff in the hospital were brilliant. I almost forgot about the “outside” happenings and was able to focus on bringing my baby girl into this crazy world.
I had had a very healthy pregnancy with no complications until at my 39 weeks midwife’s appointment I was sent into hospital due to high blood pressure. I absolutely hate hospitals and have just never felt comfortable going there, so when I was informed that I had to attend alone (because of Covid-19 circumstances) I was pretty distraught and scared of what would happen.
Nevertheless, gloved up and trembling my mum gave me a lift into the hospital, where I was told I had to stay the night due to my high blood pressure and that it was a recommended option to start the process of having an induction that same night… Bearing in mind this is nothing I had planned for. I was hoping for a water birth in the MLU (midwifery led unit) without ANY type of intervention and was looking forward to practicing all I had learnt in my hypnobirthing course…but as they say, plans never go to plan! Nevertheless, I had my birth preferences with me (that I never got a chance to show anyone) but I knew in my mind what I wished for. The staff were great, they were incredible informative, supportive and reminded me I had a choice over every step of the way.
I did a 5 week hypnobirthing course with a doula called Joanna. She follows the Marie Mongan method and I loved every step of the way. I really felt it filled me with knowledge and confidence as well as my partner. If this is something that interests you check her out and other services she offers: https://www.facebook.com/Doulaservicesjoannajunker/
My induction began with one pessary that night. I managed a little sleep but no labour symptoms. A second pessary the following morning created some tightenings – these, felt like surges. At this stage, my partner was able to visit between 12-6pm and was with me during this period. Tightenings started to get stronger and I wondered whether this was to be the start of my labour. However, by 6pm that evening everything stopped.
Next, I was given the option to proceed to the “second stage” of induction which was having a prostaglandin gel. I decided to wait until the following day to avoid the risk of not being able to sleep due to the pains that may come with it. I needed to get as much sleep as I could. It wasn’t until I was given a second gel the following evening that I started to feel more tightenings.
Practicing what I had learnt at my hypnobirthing course, I listened to my relaxation tapes to stay calm and focused and managed to breathe my way through the start of surges. By 10pm I had a feeling this was the real thing. Relaxation tapes on repeat, pouring lavender essential oil on my wrists and listening to a recording of my partner counting out my breaths for me, I managed to breath my way through the surges whilst I was alone.
When the pain got stronger I took paracetamol, followed by some codeine, which I was trying to avoid as I know cocodamol makes me drowsy. I then tried to sleep but every time I started to nod off, I kept waking up with pains. I was offered to take a bath if the pain got worse. By 3am the surges got stronger and I asked the midwife if I could now have a bath. I was offered other pain relief but refused it as I didn’t want the side effects of feeling sick, week or drowsy.
At this stage I was put on a monitor to check the pattern my surges were making and was told that they weren’t frequent enough!!! (REALLY?!). Nevertheless, I was examined and told that I was 3-4cm dilated and that she would get someone from the labour ward to come to collect me. I phoned my partner to come in, bearing in mind he had a 20-minute drive ahead of him. Whilst waiting I tried one breath of gas and air and immediately knew I didn’t like it, so I continued to focus on my breathing.
By the time the midwife arrived from the labour ward with a wheelchair, I couldn’t stay seated every time I had a surge. So, it’s fair to say it was an interesting, stop start, journey in the lift from the 4th floor (MLU) to the 5thfloor (Labour Ward). All said and done, by the time we got to the 5th floor and I was taken straight into the birthing pool room, I had requested- I was fully dilated! And there was now NO time to fill the pool.
My midwife was amazing and kept reminding me to follow my body’s instincts and to breathe deeply. It must have been the transition stage, but at that point I was very tempted in having an epidural (which I was certain I didn’t want beforehand) and now thinking back I’m glad I was past the stage of being able to have one.
Luckily my partner arrived in time, as 30 minutes later my beautiful baby girl Faye Jessica was born at 4.45 am.
The whole labour duration was 1h 15minutes. I cannot thank the staff, midwives, doctors and all other NHS members enough for making me feel safe and keeping me as relaxed as possible. Giving birth and becoming a mother was the most surreal, emotional and fantastic experience ever.
I wish you all the very best with your birthing experience, embrace your incredible body and what it’s allowing you to do.
P.S. I highly recommend hypnobirthing. It helps to remind you to focus on you, your body and your breathing.