After around 2 weeks of what I can only explain as on and off period pain which became more intense after an afternoon with my NCT girls where I had requested extra chilli on my Pad Thai lunch hoping this could maybe kick things off!! Well whether this or drinking several cups of raspberry leaf tea actually helped I don’t know but later that evening I officially went into labour.
Whilst my husband Alex was at the pub with one of the NCT dads (well soon to be) I was bouncing on my ball hoping this could be the night I finally meet my baby. My husband came home around 10pm after a few pints and we went to bed at around 10.30pm. He was watching something on his I-Pad whilst I tried to get some sleep. However at 11pm I had my first contraction (having wondered and asked my older sister several times what a contraction feels like) this was definitely not a false alarm. After around 30 mins I turned and told my husband things had started, although he thought it was another false alarm and continued watching his movie. I started using my contraction counting app I had downloaded. The contractions were coming every 8 minutes at first and lasting around one minute. After about an hour I decided to put my tens machine on. However the contractions quickly went down to every 3-4 minutes. At 1 am my husband called the birthing unit at Chelsea and Westminster hospital and explained the frequency of my contractions. They said as it was my first baby to stay at home and to have a bath or shower. So I got in the shower which really helped. However around 45 minutes later at 1.45am my husband called the hospital again to speak to the midwife, by this point my contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting a minute. They asked to speak to me and they said from the sound of my voice for me to stay at home.
However, things quickly developed and I went from telling my husband who wanted to call the taxi to take us to C&W – I can stay at home longer to I don’t think I can get to the hospital. Luckily Alex had called and the taxi was already outside. Somehow I managed to get downstairs and into the taxi – where i was in the back on my hands and knees. We arrived at C&W at around 3.30am where I had around 4 contractions before arriving at the reception of the maternity ward. I think they knew i was advanced in my labour as they took me straight into one of rooms on the birthing unit, avoiding going to triage to be examined. I was extremely happy about that. I waited to be examined which they did between my contractions. I was told I was a ‘solid 7cm’ at which point Alex and I kissed and hugged – I was so proud of myself. I then had my show.
Having read my birth plan they then asked me if I would still like to use the birthing pool which they were already preparing from me, at which point I said yes. Funnily enough it was the same room we had been shown on our tour of the maternity ward a month or so before. After pulling off my tens machine I got in straight away. Contractions by this time were coming quickly and more intense in my back. Alex put my affirmations on in the background which helped me relax and focus. At this point my waters still hadn’t broken. I stayed in the water for around 3 hours (although I thought it felt like 1) and i began to get the urge to push. However, after a while the midwife and doula got me out of the pool to examine me. The baby was back to back and I was only 8cm – at which point I was so disappointed. They think I relaxed too much in the pool! My waters still hadn’t broken so they decided to break them and also put a catheter in to empty my bladder as this can also slow labour down. In order to try and change the position of the baby, the doula and Alex massaged my back, finally successfully moving the baby to the correct position. At this point i was using gas and air as the contractions were so intense in my back. I kept getting the urge to push. They moved me to the bathroom to see if this position would help. After staying there for a while I returned to the bean bag bed. I could only stay on my hand and knees at this point and I found myself naturally dong the figure of 8 move I had learnt in pregnancy yoga. After this I wasn’t aware of how long this took. Just before breathing the baby downwards I had very intense contractions which had hardly any time in between them, I think this was ‘transition’. I remember looking out of the window I was facing and noticing it was light and asking ‘how much longer?’
I stopped using the gas and air and concentrated on breathing downwards – using my Hypnobirthing methods i had learnt at my classes. I’m not sure how long this went on for but it felt like around an hour. I could feel the baby moving downwards but then moving back up. Alex then said he could see the baby’s head and hair! I think I enjoyed this stage the most. With each contraction I was closer to meeting our baby. I remember the changeover of the midwives around 30 minutes before the birth. I also remember them preparing things for the birth. They had been checking the baby’s heartbeat every 15 mins since I had arrived and kept telling me the baby was doing well and strong. After some very strong downward breathing, the baby’s head was born. I then had to wait a couple of minutes for another contraction to deliver the rest of the baby. Alex then told me the sex of our baby – It’s a girl!! She was brought straight up on to my chest as I moved on to my back. She had lots of vernix and meconium on her, however I didn't care she was the most perfect thing I had ever seen. The midwife asked what her name was and I quickly said 'Grace' without even confirming the choice of name with Alex (however he later said after what I had just done I could choose any name!)
Grace was perfect and I was so proud of myself. She was born at 8.46 am.
I was later told by the midwives that for a first baby, a labour of less than 10 hours was very fast and that they weren’t surprised at all when they heard i had done Hypnobirthing classes – managing to get to hospital at 7cm dilated. I have since been told the next one could be very fast and should think about a home birth!
The third stage of delivering the placenta took an hour, although at the time it didn’t feel like this.
I was then examined to find I had not torn at all and therefore didn’t need any stitches, which is I was told by the midwives was rare in your first birth. Maybe the perineum massage had helped!
I can't believe Grace is already 4 months old. Being a mummy is definitely a difficult job but very rewarding and the love and happiness she brings is unimaginable. My husband and I still can't believe we made such a beautiful little thing.
Labour and birth was the most challenging thing I have ever been through but it was also the most amazing thing! I would definitely do it all again!