My Positive Birth Story
My positive pregnancy test felt like a life long dream was coming true. But when I first started to think about the birth, I was nervous. It felt like such unknown territory, but I also knew deep down that it was the most natural thing ever and that my body was capable of giving birth to my baby.
I quickly started researching hypnobirthing and positive birth stories, reading books and listening to podcasts, doing pregnancy yoga and signing up to the PEP midwives antenatal course. Me and my partner Mark wanted to be as prepared as we could - knowledge is power we thought. Learning about the different stages of labour and different options available to us made me realise just how in control of our birth we could be, which I found really empowering (but also a bit daunting). The nerves slowly turned into a sort of intrigue about the whole experience as my due date got nearer.
I had a relatively straightforward pregnancy and was under midwife-led care. A birth plan? But how do you plan for something when you have no idea what to expect? Instead I had a couple of preferences. I didn't want an epidural as to me, personally, that felt like a lack of control and I thought a water birth sounded nice. Other than that I was open to going along with whatever felt right and safe when the time came.
We considered a home birth, but ultimately decided that being in an alongside birth centre was the option I was most comfortable with, close to a labour ward should we need it.
Two days after my due date at around 11am I started to feel some twinges. I'd heard of early labour sometimes taking days, with women often saying they tried to go for a walk or get some sleep. But for me, the contractions got stronger quite quickly. Mark was working from home upstairs and by the time he was on his lunch break at 1pm, I knew the baby was coming and all I could do was try to get in a comfortable position and breathe through each surge. I started focusing on up breathing, as I would do for the next 20+ hours until it was time to push.
Mark was the best support and kept me relaxed, fed and watered. I tried the tens machine and a massage, but I couldn't stand anything or anyone touching me or any other distractions. I didn't even want to listen to my carefully curated birth playlist!
We tracked my surges on the Freya app and stayed at home until around 7pm. By this time they were around 2 - 3 minutes apart and a call to the birth centre confirmed it was time to go.
We got to the Grange hospital and were shown to a private room in the birth centre (after a memorable walk down the long corridor!) I was around 5cm dilated. I was also dehydrated (to our surprise) and unable to keep down any water or food, so an IV drip was recommended. The midwife consulted an obstetrician who was happy for me to stay in the birth centre. I'd heard that being hooked up to an IV limited your ability to move around, but it was actually fine, I was still able to walk, go on all fours etc. Being dehydrated did mean that I couldn't have the water birth I'd hoped for however, but at that stage I really didn't care.
The next few hours through the night felt neverending, surges got stronger and more intense than I ever could have imagined. The only thing that helped me through them was to breathe into them. Long breaths in through the nose, out through the mouth. I tried gas and air, but found it distracted me from my breathing and wasn't for me. At around 7cm I decided to have pethidine. I'd been wary of the drowsy effects it could have on my baby, but at that point, knowing I had a while to go, I needed something and I think the 'rest' it gave me really gave me the strength I needed to power through the final stages of labour.
At around 7am (I think?) the next morning, my waters finally broke. There was meconium in them, which I'd learned could be a sign that my baby was in distress. The midwife said I may need to go to the labour ward, not what I wanted to hear. However, after an examination, she said the baby was coming and I needed to get him out now. 'Big push!' she said, this bit was a bit like in the movies. The next stage of my labour was very quick and within a few minutes of pushing, our baby was here, wailing immediately to let us know he was ok. 'It's a boy!' Mark announced and baby Emrys was placed on me for skin to skin. He was born at 8.22am. I felt such relief. Holding my son for the first time was a feeling I'll never forget. I looked down in complete awe of this tiny human that I loved so much already.
'Intense' is the word I use when friends ask me how the birth was. Of course it was painful, but when you're so focused on meeting your baby, you just give into it and your body takes over.
I felt like a bit of a superhero for a while after giving birth and I realise how lucky I am to have had a positive experience. The care we received throughout my pregnancy and birth was amazing and really supportive of our choices.
I think the preparation and antenatal classes we did really helped to make us feel confident in our decisions, and relax and not panic, for myself and equally for Mark.
Emrys is now almost 6 months old and not a day goes by that I don't look at him and think about the day he was born and realise how lucky we are that he's our son. Our beautiful little boy!