Rita's Birth Story: An Unexpected Water Birth

birth story Aug 01, 2023

As my due date of 1st January was approaching, I was getting more and more determined not to be induced. I planned a natural, unassisted birth and thoughts of any medical interventions totally freaked me out.

I was drinking gallons of raspberry leaf tea and eating 6 dates each morning just as prescribed by ‘google’. I was also walking my dog for at least an hour each day since the start of my maternity leave on 12th December. All to make the baby move down and with intention of going into labour as close to the due date as possible.

My husband has made a note of the first twinges on 30th December around 22.15. I didn’t think much of these sensations as they were more like very minor period cramps; very irregular and inconsistent. Those twinges became more regular at 20 mins apart (although still very weak) on 31st December around 13.00. They lasted for 3-4 hours and didn’t in any way disrupt our day.

In the evening of 31st December, both my husband and I knew that the baby was coming and it’s only a matter of days/hours before things really kicked off.

Having stayed up until just after midnight to meet the New Year- I had a good night sleep. Even if I did experience anything during that night- it certainly wasn’t strong enough to wake me up!

On 1st January we took the dog out for a walk as planned although I opted in for a shorter route as I could feel things starting to progress. We continued with our day as normal, re-checked the hospital bag, installed the car seat etc.

At around 15.00 on 1st January things have started progressing. My contractions were regular and no more than 6 minutes apart. We downloaded the contraction app on the phone and started recording them. They were quite mild between 15.00 and 17.00 however I was still very much aware of them.

At 17.00 we rang the hospital and advised them of the progress. I explained to the midwife that I was keen to stay at home as long as possible and was ideally planning to make way to the hospital when contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. She agreed and asked us to call them again when we were ready to come. At around 18.30 my contractions became closer together with an average frequency of 3.5 minutes. They also became more intense as I was marking them on the app as ‘strong’. I could still continue with the normal tasks, but preferred not to talk during the surges.

At this point, I knew that if things continued to progress as they did, we will be going to the hospital in a couple of hours. I rang my mum and told her that we will be dropping the dog off to her around 20.00 on the way to the hospital (I was determined to stay at home as long as possible and felt that by 20.00 we will have regular and fairly strong contractions every 2 minutes or so)

Just after 20.00 we got in the car, dropped the dog off to my mum’s house and made our way to the hospital. We rang the midwife from the car and advised that we were on our way.

Everyone always describes the car journey as very unpleasant – my journey honestly wasn’t that bad. In fact, I started feeling the contractions slow down and become weaker. It was Sunday and the roads were empty so we reached hospital in less than 20 minutes. I didn’t feel the need to be dropped off at the door so we decided to park the car together and walk to the hospital from the car park. As we were escorted into the birthing suite and my blood pressure/baby’s position checked by the midwife- I was worried that we will be sent back home as my contractions were not as strong as they were prior to leaving home.

Midwife asked us to get comfortable and said she would observe me for some time to understand how far along I was. She also read my birth plan at this time. I could feel my contractions get further apart so the midwife advised that I am still in the latent stage and she would be happy for us to go back home. She also mentioned that as the hospital was not very busy- she would also be happy for us to remain. I was worried that going through the car journey again and coming back to the hospital would make everything slow down again so decided to stay at the hospital, make myself comfortable and get things moving. It took us about an hour to get things going again and by 21.30 the contractions were back to 2-3 minutes apart and quite strong. I was on my feet up to this point, swaying my hips during contractions but was getting quite tired and wondered if I should lie down to get some rest. I asked my husband to put the TENS machine on as I could feel things intensifying.

Up till now I am not sure if TENS really made any difference but I ended up having it on all the way till transition. Lying down made contractions a lot more intense and after 3 or 4 of them, I felt my waters break. Looking at my contraction history on the app now, I can see that I must have reached transition around 22.30. The pain got a lot more intense and I started feeling the urge to push. I also started feeling pressure in my lower back although all the way prior to that it was mainly in my lower belly. At this point i was on my knees on the floor leaning over a stool. I requested the midwife to prepare a bath and also asked for gas and air as I thought that at this stage TENS machine was not doing enough to help me cope.

For some reason the midwife was reluctant to give me gas and air at this stage- she either wanted to make sure I was, in fact, transitioning or she wanted to push me further towards a totally unmedicated birth as per my birth plan. 20 mins later and I was in the tub equipped with gas and air. This made the whole thing a lot more manageable.

From what I remember, I started feeling urges to push around 23.00 as I kept wondering if one hour going to be enough and whether the baby will come on his due date; it felt like contractions became further apart as I felt I was getting a lot more rest in between. I was using gas an air with every contraction and around an hour and a half later. at 00.40 on 2nd Jan, my baby was born.

It wasn’t my plan to deliver in the water (although I never discounted it) but I am so glad I did. The water was very soothing and helped an awful lot.

I transferred onto the bed with the cord still intact and the baby skin to skin. My plan was not to clamp the cord until I deliver the placenta however our cord ended up being too short which made it quite uncomfortable to breastfeed and hold the baby whilst still attached to the cord. We clamped the cord about 20 mins after birth and after it stopped pulsing. I later delivered my placenta whilst still holding the baby on my chest.

I wanted for all baby checks to be done at a later stage to allow my initial bonding with him so the midwife left all 3 of us in the room until 5am to sleep and rest. We had all baby checks done that morning after 5am along with a few stitches that I required for a small tear. We were discharged at 10am that same morning.

I feel extremely lucky that my birth went as planned and am very thankful to the midwife for adhering to the birth plan. I did not want any internal examinations and ended up going through the whole labour without having dilation checked once! I wanted limited presence and talking in the room and can only remember midwife being there for the pushing stage. I was given all the time to help me bond with my baby and didn’t at all feel any pressure to do things I didn’t feel comfortable with.

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