time flies when you're being a mum

Childbirth tagged with 'Birthing Centre'

How do you get a baby out? Well, there are about a million different ways to do childbirth and this aims to cover as many as possible!

The labour post


19 Aug, 2012

This time last week my little Reuben had just been born…Are you ready for this? Warts and all?!

Reuben Parker was born on Sunday morning at 9:47am, weighing 7lbs and 11 oz. He is the most perfect thing I have ever seen and I am completely overwhelmed by his loveliness!

I’ve been working on this all week, when I get chance and I’m going to be honest about what the birth was like (while I can still remember – I’ll need Mike to fill in some of the details as I’m already forgetting!) but for anyone pregnant with their first baby I want to remind you that I actively avoided detailed stories of birth in order to keep positive and help prepare myself in the way I felt best. So, I want to highlight the following before you read on:

1. It was the most amazing experience of my life (and already I’m thinking I could do it again – Mother Nature is a cruel mistress!)

2. I’m glad I planned and hoped for a positive birth experience – I should have spent more time visualising the birth pool and pina coladas though! – I will do that again. I did feel a bit down about the way things panned out. I’m a healthy woman surely I could have done it naturally? Yes, is the answer Mike believes but it would have been longer and hurt a lot more. When you’re in the throws of it you stop giving a shit and just want the baby out. There were some lonely times when we were just left to it to suffer and there was nothing Mike could do while I paced around. I feel that if we had hired a Doula, she might have made the experience much more bearable for both of us.

3. I feel so in love with Mike and our baby

4. I have already begun to forget everything (apart from the good bits that make me cry when I think of them)

So, on our due date we followed the midwife’s prescription and 3 more bonks after my sweep, being out and about all day on Friday, and having a bit of quiet time on my bed with Gabriella telling the baby he could come out now, my waters broke at 20:15 on Friday evening while Gabby was having her supper. I was stood in the kitchen (thankfully not the new carpets!) when I thought I’d wet myself. Once it continued to keep coming out, I knew it was my waters. I was so excited that it was starting!

We called the Birthing Centre and I expected them to say “have a glass of wine and get to bed” but they wanted me to come in and get checked over. There was an air of optimism about the house as we rushed around packing bags (of course I never did get my hospital bag packed up in advance!), making dinner (I needed to get my strength up!) and sorting Gabriella out to go to Grandma and Grandad’s. I was sure it wouldn’t be long, I was already thinking BIG thoughts. Plus, once my mum’s waters had been broken (for her at hospital) both my older brother and I came quickly…we packed the car up to the brim not expecting to come home (even the space hopper and car seat made it in the back).

Around 10pm we arrived at the Birth Centre, I was getting the odd little cramp but still feeling fine. I was checked over and had my pad checked to make sure my waters definitely had been broken, which they had. Then they told me that before going home I needed to choose which hospital I wanted to be induced in.

Er, what?

Turns out that if your waters break and you do not spontaneously go into labour you must be induced because the chance of infection for the baby increases the longer you go. For Newcastle RVI the time allowed is 12 hours after waters breaking and for Ashington’s Wansbeck Hospital it is 24 hours. At the time I was really torn because as you know I didn’t want to be induced – what was the point in all that bonking?! (only joking Mike!) And, I really wanted my ‘relaxed’ Birthing Centre experience with the pool and pina colada!

In the end we chose Wansbeck, it had originally been our first choice so we stuck with it. Plus, this gave me longer to go into labour naturally. Little did I know what would follow!

We headed home and I was already feeling tired so we didn’t bother with getting any wine, I had a bowl of cereal and some toast and was meant to get into bed when the pains started coming around 12am. I think we must have been watching some sort of East Enders omnibus and I remember crouching on all fours on the sofa making low groaning noises (or as Mike called them, Sex noises) into my maternity pillow (best thing I was given – I have a whole post dedicated to it coming up) and thinking my cervix big, while Mike kept track of the time between contractions. We got bored of this after a while and after speaking to the Birthing Centre again we were advised to run me a bath to see if it would calm the contractions down enough so I could go to bed.

Being impatient to just get on with it I didn’t want anything to calm down – I felt up against time as I didn’t want to be induced. In hindsight I wish I had tried to relax because the next day was LONG and I was exhausted. I did get in the bath and continued to monitor the contractions with my iPhone lap timer (bit confusing!). I didn’t do stay in the bath for long as I thought it was making things more uncomfortable but probably it was just me being impatient.

My contractions weren’t consistent but they were definitely coming 3 in every 10 minutes, and we had been instructed to come back in at this point. I got Mike back up and we made the journey back to the Birthing Centre. It was a lot more painful this time. I climbed in the back and tried to lie on my side while cuddling my maternity pillow.

When we got to the centre around 4am I got hooked up again to the machine (stood this time as I was in pain and didn’t want to sit) and then had an internal to check my dilation. I was feeling really positive about this as I’d been imagining my cervix expanding with every contraction and sure I’d be at least 5 cm by now. I was 2cms. Gutted is not the word.

So, despite being in pain for what had been hours I wasn’t officially in labour and would have to go home again. I could have cried and the journey was getting longer and longer as the pain set in.

When we got home I got into bed on all fours on my trusty maternity pillow and tried to sleep. Ha! I think I did manage little dozes in between contractions and probably stayed there for half an hour. Then made my way down to the bathroom floor then Gabriella’s bed, where I stayed groaning for more hours while Mike slept. I’ve no idea how long this took but the contractions felt stronger despite not getting closer together or in fact regular.  I was sure though that it must be time to go back to the centre so we made the painful journey again – at least if I was 4cm I could stay and get some pain relief.

To cut a long story short I was still only 3cm (at very most) and we were disappointingly sent home for the 3rd time to ‘wait it out’ until the contractions were either a lot stronger (seriously) or we it was 9pm when we could go into the Wansbeck (it was around 9am at this point). So depressing! I basically spent the day prowling from room to room like a trapped bear, mooing and trying to make low noises, which is supposed to help open your cervix, and imagining what I could remember from the hypnobirthing – my special beach, waves lapping, opening cervix, descending baby, breathing in golden light, etc.

This probably would have been an ideal opportunity to listen to my hypnobirthing CD or read some Ina May about how to progress labour but I couldn’t face doing ANYTHING. I couldn’t eat, sit, think. I couldn’t even get on all fours at this point because baby was back to back and the pain was excruciating! And, sitting on the loo? It would bring on a horrendous contraction. It took me a few days to be able to look a toilet in the eye again (I exaggerate of course, all was forgotten once babe came out). Basically all I could do was walk and as I walked my ankles got bigger and bigger.

Because I couldn’t face the 20 min journey in the car going back to the Birth Centre, the day became a waiting game trying to calm down the contractions so I could cope until 8pm when we could leave to the Hospital. I didn’t give a shit anymore about being induced. I was disappointed about not going to the birth centre and I was worried that I would end up having a c-section but I needed pain relief and a rest. I was also so upset that I hadn’t decided to go to the RVI as I would have been induced hours earlier and this might have all been over!

Every hour was like a year but the time finally came when we could leave for the hospital – we had asked if we could go in earlier but they were so busy 9pm was the earliest point I would be seen so it was better to stick it out at home.

One painful last ride later Mike dropped me off outside the hospital. And, this was not my finest moment. I was still wearing the lace summer dress I’d been wearing on Friday afternoon to Mike’s Godson’s 3rd Birthday party, I had a pair of white ankle socks, my slippers and to top it off my fluffy dressing gown. I huffed and puffed down the hallway ever so slightly slower than a snail, stopping every few steps to have a contraction and make sex noises in the hallway (and I won’t mention that we went half a mile (to a snail) out of our way to the wrong unit first!).

Fortunately, they were expecting us and we went straight into the delivery room – which was very pleasant! Unfortunately, because of my waters breaking, I had to be monitored for the remainder of my labour and was therefore bedbound (something I really hadn’t wanted as I wanted an active labour to help progression – since pacing my house for 20 hours had done little to help anything other than the mother of all cankles dilate, it didn’t really matter).

I had another internal and guess what? 2-3cms. Are you freaking kidding me? I must be the biggest whimp known to man! Nonetheless, I demanded the drugs, and they put me straight on gas and air (nice but I have no idea why you want this in Ibiza!) and then decided to put me on Diamophine so I could get some rest. And, that’s just what we did, for the next 2 hours I was able to sleep! Mike curled up with my maternity pillow in a really uncomfortable looking seat and did the same.

We’re in the final straight now, although it took another 9 hours and because Reuben was back to back there was generally more pain (so I tell myself!), but it was pretty much a blur of just getting on with it. After my 2 hours kip I was 4cm dilated. Serious progress! But not enough for the hospital’s liking so I was put on a hormone drip to speed up the progression and because Reuben was back to back his heartbeat kept slipping off the radar so the midwife had to keep coming in and pressing the pad on my now hugely disfigured stomach – it was made up of 2 distinct lumps, most probably arms and legs.

What started to happen from then on was I got the urge to push. Bearing in mind that I was still only 4cm it was going to be like pushing a camel through the eye of a needle and the sensations were so painful I was now uncontrollably shouting the house down. I spent ages trying to resist this urge to push, sometimes managing it other times really not! This went on for ages and as the drugs were beginning to wear off I started asking about the heavy stuff…when the four hours were up I was able to have more Diamophine but it wasn’t taking the edge off this new pushing pain so I kept asking for an Epidural. The (one) anaesthetist was very busy that night (or so my midwife told me – maybe she thought I’d be better off without it…?) so it wasn’t possible but the midwife gave me a glimmer hope saying if I could stick with the gas and air for the next hour I might be ready to push. I have no sense of time so it might have been hours but I stuck with it and I’m really glad I did because I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to push him out if I did have an epidural, who knows?

Anyway, the time finally came when the midwife’s shift finished and I was fully dilated – she berated me for not hurrying up so she could see my baby and I said good-bye to my new best friend. The new midwife was just as lovely and I felt really comfortable with her (fortunately, because the first thing she did was stick her fingers up my fanny and then had to catheterise about 2 ltrs of urine out of my bladder. She told me that the baby had managed to turn itself around – so all those urges to push was most likely strong contractions that were repositioning the baby. Mental! Good job too as she thought I might have had to have a c-section if he stayed back-to-back, especially as I then began to push for a full hour with the baby’s head just crowning and disappearing again.

After the hour the doctors were brought in as Reuben’s heart rate was dropping, they started talking about vacuuming him out and rushed off to get the tools. In the meantime my midwife informed me that there was no way he was being sucked out and I could do it if she gave me a little cut. The other thing I really didn’t want!! Well, one little snip later, me apologising for wetting myself (it was actually just the final gush of my waters), 4 massive pushes (in which I must have looked like, I can’t even imagine actually, but really really bad!!), “he’s coming, he’s coming, PUUUUUSH!”

…and out popped my gorgeous little boy!

Mike was beside himself. As soon as he saw him, he told me he was a boy (although we’d been calling him a boy all the way through the pushing stages, so it didn’t feel like a surprise!) with big, lovely tears rolling down his face. He was kissing me and telling me how much he loved me, and it was the most beautiful moment of my life.


I then whipped my boobs out (still covered by lace dress!) and Reuben got placed straight onto me so we could have some skin-to-skin time (apparently very important for initial bonding) so he could have a route around to find my boobs while we waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing – we actually saw it still pumping blood into his little body. Finally the cord was cut, I had two loads of injections to get the placenta out, I gave birth to that too (I don’t think I actually saw it though), and I had my newly designer vagina sown up. All the while I just gazed at my baby and cuddled him in.

Here he is now 1 week old.

How things change from final flings to typing one handed and expressing with the other! Magic.

29 May, 2012

I’ve hit the proverbial brick wall a bit this week and it all started after a trip to the birthing centre last Sunday that I’ve been wanting to write about but struggling to know/articulate how I’m feeling. I’ll give you the back ground…

When my brother’s little boy, Rowan, was born back in February at home with no pain relief, I thought they were mad! Rowan was Diane’s first baby too and after spending some time with Diane and hearing her experience (and also reading the accompanying hypnobirthing pamphlet, which was just up my street as it was nice and short), I did a total u-turn.

What really struck a cord with me from the hypnobirthing pamphlet was that if a woman is frightened her body will actually slow down or stop the progression of labour until she feels safe again. To my mind hospitals can be quite scary places. All my life, I’ve only ever been in a hospital to visit people who are dying. And, everything about hospitals, to me, is unnatural (i.e. you are surrounded by foreign things that you would never normally see). So I was seriously thinking about a home birth and had read some interesting articles that both from a scientific/research point of view and anecdotally supported home birth and suggested it was no less dangerous (and in fact in some cases it was safer) than a hospital birth. For example:

In the Netherlands, 30 percent of births take place at home — which show home birth to be equally safe for the baby.

(From this article in New York Times)

And this article from Boots, states the following advantages to having a home birth:

  • You may be more relaxed in labour and while giving birth, as you are in familiar surroundings.
  • You may not have to interrupt your labour with a journey to hospital
  • You’ll hopefully know your midwife team
  • You’re less likely to have medical interventions
  • You won’t have to leave other children or be separated from your partner
  • You’re less likely to pick up an infection

However, despite an initial desire to not go into hospital, I’ve lost my bottle. Firstly, anyone you speak about home births almost immediately, without fail, says, “what if something goes wrong” and some add “you’d forever wonder what if I had been hospital”. After a few months of that, I’ve got a bit jaded. But what really was the nail in the coffin was speaking to my midwife. I wouldn’t say she couldn’t have been less enthusiastic but it was down there. And, coupled with the “if something goes wrong it could take 40 minutes to get you to hospital” and the fact that I wouldn’t know my midwife team, I just thought forget it.

So, back to the Birthing Centre. We decided to go look around after this meeting with the midwife, as a kind of halfway house between home and hospital. Firstly, after remembering all day that we had the appointment, we both promptly forgot in the last hour until our phone alarms went off 10 minutes before (and it’s at least a 20 minute drive). We were completely unprepared to leave so I burst into tears thinking we’d have to go another day and I wanted to go TODAY (I hadn’t realised it was that important to me!). Fortunately, they were fine for us to arrive a bit late. Pregnancy panic averted!

Secondly, the Birthing Centre is no halfway house. It is a hospital but just without the doctors. So I spent the first part of the tour feeling uncomfortable and a bit disappointed. Then when I saw the room you would deliver in I was beside myself (I managed to hold it together but I did burst into tears as soon as we left!).

I’ve been trying to work out since what caused me to react in such a way and basically it was the first time I had ever REALLY thought about the birth . Seeing the room made it feel extremely real and for the first time I could imagine it and felt utterly terrified.

I shall come back to that but I should say that the Birthing Centre did win me over. We had a lovely midwife show us around who was amazingly informative (I wish I had taken a pen and paper), and the centre was really quiet and relaxed. When I think back on it now, I’m sure all the midwives were skipping around singing zip-a-de-doo-dah. There are many perks to being in the Birthing Centre including private rooms, extended visiting hours, birthing pool, plus the extra equipment to resuscitate your baby should it need it. The aftercare looks amazing. When I had originally wanted to be in and out of hospital as quickly as possible, the prospect of staying in a bit longer until I find my feet is now a really tempting one.

So, back to the actual birth…what I think really bothered me when I saw the room, was that it represented the complete lack of control I feel about the birth. Like I said previously, it felt completely foreign and that coupled with the fact that I don’t know the person who will be helping me through this life changing experience, must have sent me in to a bit of a panic. I don’t know what to expect and rather than trusting my body (and the experts around me – who I don’t know) to know what to do for a natural delivery, I feel more like I’m walking towards something that is entirely unknown. I guess I’m worried that it will become a long drawn out procedure because I’m terrified, and therefore I’ll end up have any number of interventions that I wouldn’t have needed if I was more relaxed and at ease with my surroundings.

Anyway, I’ve found a really interesting article, thanks to @BelevationMom on twitter, called  “Mommy Wars: The Prequel, Ina May Gaskin and the Battle for at-Home Births”. It’s about a hippy-midwife who has been delivering babies the au naturale way for decades. With no formal medical education, she relies entirely on nature, experience and common sense and has successfully delivered even the trickiest of babies (including breach and very over due).

As we know, I’ve now settled on a birth at the Birthing Centre, however, there’s still lots that can be applied from this article, for example:

Ina May and the midwives believed that a woman’s body would open more easily when the energy in the room was relaxed and she had sorted out her fears. The midwives saw themselves as putting birth back in women’s hands and showing them their true power.’

Yes, it’s hippy as hell but there are 2 key things here. Firstly, we need to sort out our fears and secondly, we have the power to do this…this is what our bodies were made for, isn’t it?! Like breathing, drinking, and eating. Nobody showed us how to do those things so surely our bodies should work it out on its own? So from a ‘facing my fears’ point of view there’s no need to feel out of control or frightened by the prospect of birth. She also suggests the following:

She has found that upright positions, dim lights, eating and drinking and fewer vaginal exams speed women’s labor — none of which tend to be encouraged in a hospital.

The good news is this can be achieved in the birthing centre, so long as I am in control…

I’ve been told by other pregnant friends that I’m reading and thinking about it all too much. What will be will be and all that. But to be honest I’d rather deal with all my fears now (thanks to Ina May!) rather than in the middle of delivery when I wished I’d found out more. So, while this isn’t a complete post (I haven’t even discussed hypnobirthing, water birth vrs the more active birth positions, etc, etc) , it’s at least the start of me dealing with any issues I have. I have 2 more months and I plan to do a lot more reading so that I can, in theory, go into labour feeling in control and prepared. Hippy Hannah!