After a fairly uneventful pregnancy until 36 weeks, when I was moved onto consultant care due to concerns over baby's size (I was discharged from them at 39 weeks) and managing to get through Christmas and New Year without an early appearance of baby, I was ready for the end at 40 weeks. I had a sweep with my midwife at 1.15pm on Friday 10th January at 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant. After returning home and sitting down for a bit, I started getting some strong irregular cramps at 2.15pm. After another hour of pretending to be normal (looking after the toddler and doing housework) and breathing through the contractions when they came, I realised that it was definitely labour and started calling the family to sort out who would look after Thomas, our 2 year old. My dad came over to stay the night with Thomas in case we needed to leave for the hospital in the middle of the night. I called our doula, Manie from Opal Aura and told her not to rush but to come over when she could as things were moving up a gear now with the contractions coming stronger and closer together.
Once my dad arrived and Thomas was settled, I went upstairs, put the tv on and started bouncing/rocking on my birth ball and had my TENS machine fitted. Manie arrived shortly after and we started timing the contractions. They were still slightly irregular but were averaging between 5-7 minutes apart and 40-60 seconds long. I called the hospital and told I would hopefully be on my way there soon but was happy at home for the moment. However at about 7.15pm (approx) things started to slow down, I bounced on the ball more, did some walking around and some squats to try and get things moving again but it all stopped. We all agreed it would be a good idea to get something to eat and some rest. Manie assured us that things would probably start happening again in the middle of the night.
During the night, I woke with a couple of minor contractions but nothing else happened. At 6am on the morning of Saturday 11th January, I was woken up every 15 minutes (approx) with a series of contractions. At 7.20am, I woke my husband up and told him things were happening again. Fortunately my dad had stayed overnight so we didn't need to worry about Thomas. At around 8.30am, we called Manie, told her to stay at home for the moment and that we would get in touch again when we needed her. I laboured at home with my TENS Machine until 10.30am but by then the contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes and lasting about a minute a time. We collected Manie on the way and made our way to the hospital by 11am.
Once in hospital, we discovered that Manie was not allowed to join us for the moment as I was considered not to be in established labour and could only have one birth partner in triage with me. I went to triage and they said I was 3cm dilated. They said I should go back home and come back again later. However, my blood pressure was high so they decided to monitor the baby for 40 minutes and make sure all was ok.
During the 40 minutes of monitoring, I was made to lie down and my contractions slowed down again. (They had slowed down in the car journey and took a little while to build back up.) Once the monitoring was complete, I was able to start moving round and the contractions increased again. I also used a contraction oil on my clothes, made by Manie to help encourage the contractions to speed up too.I started to struggle to talk through them now. A doctor came in and saw had bad I was contracting and agreed that I should stay in so they could monitor my blood pressure.
After another long delay, I was taken to a high risk delivery room and I met the midwife, Claire who was going to stay with us for the duration of her shift (6 hours). Claire was my saviour! She had been to the same pregnancy yoga classes that I had and understood that I wanted a active birth with as much movement as possible. She gave me a hug and told me everything would be ok. She even said that they could bring in a Bradbury couch or any other equipment from low risk that I wanted to have to help me give birth. I could also have mobile monitoring for the baby with a Doppler so I would not be confined to a bed. She also understood that I needed my doula in the room as soon as possible. Manie had been sat outside the maternity unit for nearly 3 1/2 hours at this point and had been talking to us via text message. I consented to another examination a hour ahead of when it was due as I felt I was in established labour. Claire checked and I was around 6-7cm mark. This made me feel much better and I was happy that someone was finally listening to my wishes.
Manie was personally collected by Claire from outside the maternity unit and brought to my room. Once Manie came in, Stuart went off to get some food and have a break. At this point, the baby gave me a rest too in between contractions and I was able to get some energy back. Manie and Stuart then swapped over again so Manie could get something to eat too. Once they were both back in the room, operation get baby out moved up to the next level!
At this point, I was still using the TENS machine, walking around the room, doing hip rotations and using my birthing ball. I was still coping incredibly well with the contractions which surprised me. I used the rectangle breath throughout my labour as taught by Nicola of Yoga Mamma Karma Baby (short breath in and long breath out) and used my visualisation of steps (each step brought me closer to the baby) to get me through. However, at 6.25pm I went to the loo and then had two massive contractions virtually straight after each other. I could barely stand up and had to grab on the sink for support. I asked for gas & air and Claire was buzzed to sort it. After checking in the loo, it was decided that my hind waters had gone and I hadn't really needed to use the loo at all!!
Claire and Manie both encouraged me to walk round using Stuart for support rocking and rotating my hips as it was agreed my labour was going slower than expected. We did little circuits near the bed so I could get to the gas & air as and when required at the peak of each contraction. By 8.25pm, my labour was still not progressing fast enough so I consented to Claire breaking my fore waters in an effort to get things moving. The contractions immediately moved up another notch and I still kept on moving around to get the baby in the correct position.
By 9.15pm/9.30pm (approx), I started making low sounds and had the urge to push. By this point, I was on all fours leaning against the Bradbury couch. Claire introduced me to Tina who was going to take over from her when she finished her shift soon. I felt the baby's head coming down and possibly starting to crown but I wasn't sure. A birth stool magically appeared from somewhere. I was sat on the stool with Stuart supporting me whilst sitting on the birth ball behind me. I kept pushing for what felt like ages and then all of a sudden, Manie and Claire started shouting the words 'head, head'. I kept on pushing throughout this massive contraction and the next thing I knew, a baby was being placed in my arms and Daniel Michael Niall had been born. He was born so suddenly that Claire (who had just been due to finish her shift at 9.45pm) did not have chance to get her gloves on. We were just glad that she caught him!!
Daniel Michael Niall
Born 9.48pm Saturday 11th January 2014
Weight 6lbs 11oz