Birth of Dylan by Catherine
Baby Dylan, born 20th Feb 2018 at 42+2 weeks
This isn’t the story I expected to be writing when I was preparing for the arrival of my son – it’s definitely not a Plan A story, but I still take so many positives from the experience so I hope it will show that even when you’re thrown a curve ball or three, you always have options and if you’re prepared you can still make it a positive experience.
I had a planned c-section in 2014 with my daughter (my first baby) due to pre-eclampsia, so had her without going into labour at all, and it all felt very strange and out of my control. This time around I was determined to approach the birth feeling strong, assertive and positive. We had an amazing midwife from the CUH Crocus home birth team, we had done Leah Freeman’s amazing birth prep course and made a Plan A, B and C. We were ready for anything!
I got to 41 weeks with little signs of labour. The pressure for induction increased but as a VBAC I didn’t much like the sound of what that would entail and I was feeling strong in my mind – me and baby were OK and for now I wanted to wait it out. 42 weeks came and I was starting to get twitchy – I wasn’t sure how long I was prepared to wait, it was a day-by-day thing, but at 8.10pm at 42+2 weeks, finally there were signs of labour! I was feeling excited and relieved that this baby was finally ready, and without any medical intervention! Mild surges came every 10 minutes from the start, and by 11.30pm they were strong and more frequent, and I was putting my breathing exercises into action as well as using a TENS. Our midwife arrived just before midnight and I continued to labour calmly and comfortably at home, in a nest of duvets/pillows on and around the sofa.
At around 1am our midwife raised concerns about getting a good trace on the baby’s heart rate, and advised transfer into hospital. I trusted her judgement – she knew our birth preferences inside and out and we felt that it was right to follow her advice. I wasn’t disappointed about missing the home birth as our Plan B was to use the birth centre if we wanted to, agreed in advance with the consultant midwife. 30 minutes of CTG monitoring on labour ward showed that baby’s heart rate was absolutely fine, so we headed to the birth centre (on site) and I laboured on the couch/bean bags while the pool was filling. It was great – dimly lit, very comfortable, quiet; just me, Mark and our midwife. Getting into the water was amazing, and I spent a long time just lolling about, breathing through surges, listening to the playlist we had brought from home. At one point I can remember singing along in between surges, and also falling asleep! It was lovely and everything I had hoped for at this point.
Things started to get more intense and after a while I was getting tired and felt like things were stalling a bit. Our midwife suggested getting out of the pool and trying other positions. It worked; I was now fully dilated around 7am and back in the pool, with gas and air to help with the strong surges. At 9.15am our midwife was noticing some dips in baby’s heart rate and was a bit concerned that perhaps he was in distress. She could also see the sac of waters full of dark meconium, so we transferred back to labour ward to try and speed the little guy along.
Unfortunately, there was quite a big shift in atmosphere – suddenly we were under the bright lights with a registrar our midwife had never met and lots of strangers in the room. The registrar was talking about contractions and pushing, telling me to stop using the gas and air and focus, which just made me feel that I wasn’t trying hard enough. But then I remembered that I had my husband and midwife each side of me, and it was like they were translating for me back into the language we wanted to use – “if you’ve got a surge coming go with your body” etc. rather than “push!”. So, I tuned into them and tried to get back to the breathing, knowing that we were nearly there. My waters were broken, and there was a lot of dark meconium present. It was intense, I was knackered and baby’s heart rate had now been unstable for an hour. The registrar wanted to use a kiwi cup (ventouse) to help baby out, so for the last two pushes that’s what happened.
Dylan arrived at 10.18am, delivered straight to my chest and absolutely fine. Our Plan A was back in action – we delayed cord clamping and after I had been stitched for a small episiotomy everyone left and we had that undisturbed first hour. No checks, weighing or measuring. Just me, Mark and our amazing new baby!
So, it was a pretty crazy experience with plenty of twists and turns, making use of all the maternity services CUH has to offer! After a few days I started to mull things over and I did feel a bit sad about how things had ended. But a de-brief with my midwife at around 10 days was invaluable. During labour I had little idea of the timeline – I knew we’d spent most of the night on the birth centre, but I thought I’d been on labour ward for quite a while at the end and been in stirrups for ages – turns out it was only the last 40 minutes we were on labour ward and the kiwi cup was attached for just 4 minutes, that’s all! And I now realise why the kiwi had to happen and I’ve made peace with that.
I’m sooo pleased I waited for spontaneous labour – something I really wanted to experience this time around. I’m immensely grateful for an amazing midwife. And doing a birth preparation course was the best decision we could have made for building our confidence about the birth – My husband was an amazing birth partner and really held the space for me and kept me on track. Just remembering that you have options and rights, there are no rules, nothing needs to be ‘done’ to you – is a really powerful tool.